More than 96,000,000 hectares of agricultural land in parts of the eastern Indian state were inundated by Typhoon Yaas this week, officials said on Friday.
Typhoon Yaas swept from the Bay of Bengal on Wednesday, triggering a storm surge that broke through embankments in the state of West Bengal, particularly hitting the ecologically sensitive Sundarbans delta that stretches into neighboring Bangladesh.
The West Bengal government’s preliminary assessment showed that water had entered about 96,650 hectares of cultivated land, said a state official.
“New floods were reported from many areas during high tide because the embankment has been left with a hole,” West Bengal fisheries minister Akhil Giri told Reuters.
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday surveyed the cyclone-hit areas of West Bengal and neighboring Odisha state, which are right in the hurricane path but suffered less damage.
“All possible assistance will be provided for the damage caused by Typhoon Yaas,” Modi said.
The condition of a resident’s house damaged by the impact of Typhoon Yaas in Balasore District, Odisha, India, May 27, 2021. Xinhua / Str
In the Sundarbans, which is still recovering from the damage caused by last year’s Typhoon Amphan, residents said extensive agricultural land and freshwater ponds used for small-scale fishing had been inundated.
“The area smells of rotten fish and movement has become very difficult due to standing water,” said Kanai Haldar, a Raidighi resident of Sundarbans, where an embankment meant to contain the flood had been damaged.
With climate change pushing up sea surface temperatures, cyclone storms coming from the Bay of Bengal have become more violent and more frequent, especially in the last ten years, according to the researchers.
Haldar said the damage caused by Typhoon Yaas appeared to be more significant than last year’s hurricane, due to the scale of the influx of sea water, which often makes agricultural land temporarily unsuitable for cultivation.